On the hottest Pentecost weekend on record, more than 50 FREMO:87 modelers from all over Europe came to beautiful Glottertal in the Black Forest for model railroading fun, delicious food and great company. With a layout consisting of more than 100 meters of track, the largest ever set up in Glottertal with many new modules, the 2014 meeting was truly one of superlatives. Here are a few impressions from my visit.
A key requirement for becoming a successful PROTO:87 modeler is patience. Adding detail parts, often applying multiple paint jobs, decals, and lastly a weathered look, can take a very long time. Sometimes, as is the case with this car, it can take years.
I’ve mastered many of the steps to make improvements to a model, but I don’t have any weathering skills. That’s why I reached out to Enno, a German modeler with excellent weathering chops, to have him put some grime on my first finished car from a set of three PIKO DB Td(s) hoppers after a photo featured in Carstens Güterwagen, volume 2, page 61.
The other day, I got an email from him indicating that he had completed the car. He sent along a number of amazing images showcasing the first completed car in my collection. I’m glad the project is done and I couldn’t be happier with the weathering job even though one step didn’t survive it. The lesson learned here is that it’s better to have the base of the car weathered before adding fragile detail parts that may not make it through the procedure.
The car has Günter Weimann PROTO:87 wheels and spring-loaded buffers, Weinert original couplers and brake hoses, Fränkische Modellbahn-Spezialitäten UIC steps and grab irons, and custom decals from Andreas Nothaft’s Decalshop. Enjoy the pictures.
In early October, I was able to attend part of the 2013 FREMO:87 meeting at the DB Museum in Nuremberg, the birth-place of German railroading. The small Festsaal was perfect for a layout consisting of about 65 modules with two branches centering around the station Türkheim (Bayern) Markt. I brought a number of my era IV models that I was able to run before the regular era III operations took over. All in all, it was another great road-trip with wonderful fellowship that included a visit to one of the best model train stores left in Germany. Enjoy the cellphone photos.
Brawa has been producing some of the best German freight car models in the last few years. I’ve purchased a number of these models not knowing that a rather big detail had been overlooked on the era IV versions of these cars. A FREMO:87 colleague made me aware of the fact that German era IV freight car underframes were painted in the same color as the car body: RAL 8012 and not black as seen on the Brawa models.
Repainting Era IV Underframes
The solution is of course quite simple. All it takes is stripping the lettering off the underframes and repainting them. It does require extra time, though. When one doesn’t have much time for modeling to begin with, it becomes quite annoying especially because one has to reletter the frame.
To get rid of the lettering, I bathe the underframe in isopropyl alcohol. Five minutes is about the right length of time to get the fine lettering off these parts. Then, I carefully wash them with warm soapy water and put them out to dry.
Adding Custom Details
This is also a good moment to add any extra details to the already wonderfully detailed models. In the example of the Brawa Omm52/E037 open hopper seen below, I added custom brake system piping and axle holders that are from a Fränkische Modellbahn-Spezialitäten kit along with cast roller bearings and safety brake slings. One could even go further and replace the entire brake linkage and cylinders, but I didn’t want to overdo it on these models.
When everything is in place and secured with CA, it’s time for another bath and then it’s off to the paint booth. That’s exactly where I’m heading this weekend to complete this set of three Brawa hoppers along with a Tms851 and a Gls205 underframe.
Currently, I have a number of projects waiting for completion as I’m getting ready for a fall FREMO:87 meeting in Germany. Among the cars on my workbench are three DB Snps719 flatcar models that were first made by Märklin and Fleischmann in the 1990s. As one can expect from models of this vintage, a number of parts, such as buffer mounting plates and steps, are molded on the main body. These details will need to be removed before separately applied detail parts can be added.
An Xacto Knife Didn’t Cut It
Removing these molded parts without compromising the surface of the model has always been a challenge for me. Usually, I tried using an Xacto knife for this but time and time again I would gouge the model’s surface. These nicks would remain visible even after applying a new coat of paint.
The Razor Blade Is My New Favorite Tool
When I was at the Amherst Railroad Hobby Show last winter, I bought a bag of straight edge razor blades of the kind that are used in the Chopper cutting tool. I started experimenting with the razor and realized that it is the perfect tool for shaving off molded on parts without leaving much of a trace. The trick is to tip the thick end of the blade slightly up so that the angled cutting edge moves absolutely parallel to the work surface. The shaving motion must be performed slowly and evenly, taking off layer after layer.
Below is an image of an Snps719 frame after the razor blade treatment along with a shot of the subsequently applied detail parts. Next, the buffer plate and step will be painted. The car will be ready for service on an era IV FREMO:87 layout once spring-loaded buffers and original couplers are added.
While working with my new favorite tool, I’ve also discovered that a razor blade is very handy for bending small photo etched parts.
Do you have any additional applications for this tool? Leave a comment to share your experience.